I've never stayed at a Fairmont property before, but have admired many from afar (Empress Hotel in Victoria, Chateau Lake Louise, Banff Springs, Palliser in Calgary, Frontenac in Quebec City, Hotel Vancouver). I was genuinely looking forward to my four night stay at the Queen Elizabeth, and imagined luxurious accomodations and pleasant, courteous staff.
How wrong I was.
When we arrived in the evening around 8pm by car, no one was there to greet us, help us unload our vehicle or even hold open the door as we struggled to bring our luggage in. The inside was very dated (looked to be trapped in the late 50s/early 60s), the outside is a monolithic block (definitely not the "historical" or unique look of other properties) and definitely not up to the standards of their other properties. When we got to the room, not only did it resemble the interior decoration of a Super 8 motel, we also discovered that they had given us two double beds and not the single queen that I had confirmed during my reservation. When I went downstairs to see what had happened, the agent tried to blame the error on me and said that I "probably forgot to request it" -- not even an apology. But these were mere trivialities to what was to come.
Our first morning the electricity was out. Instead of being polite about it, the staff felt compelled to blast this information at 7:30am over their loudspeaker/intercom (again no apologies). If you were asleep, you wouldn't be after that! Not to mention that you couldn't even get ready for the day since you couldn't see a thing -- and we had to walk down sixteen flights of stairs to get outside. On our third day, the cleaning staff went on strike. Not that we knew about it until we came back from a long day to find that our room was still not cleaned and wondered why. I called downstairs to see what was going on, and was forced to sit on hold for over ten minutes. When I inquired why our room had not been cleaned, the woman snapped, "I know it has not been cleaned" and with further pressing, said that the cleaning staff was on strike and there was nothing they could do except maybe "send some clean towels up." When I suggested that maybe they could proactively give their guest a heads up, she claimed that they did not know about it in advance. (Funny, I thought the crux of most strikes rest on the fact that they make it known that they will be going on strike unless certain conditions or demands are met).
The concierge continuously had long lines, and their information/knowledge was very poor -- when we asked for dining recommendations at 8:30pm, they seemed baffled by thinking up such "late night" dining options. They were stumped by other fairly easy questions as well.
We also did not receive our newspaper the first morning, and the remainder of days we did not receive the newspaper we had requested. Normally I would overlook trivialities like that, but everything else was such a terrible experience that this was a cherry on top.
I consider myself well-travelled and have stayed at many kinds of hotels in many countries, but this ranks in the Top 5 Worst Experiences. I will not be staying at this, or any other Fairmont property in the future.
p.s. The location of the Queen Elizabeth is not nearly as great as it seems. You have to wind through a number of bizarre tunnels and staircases to get to the train station/Metro that it sits on top of. The Marriott and Sheraton nearby are much more accessible.
Also the valet service is very awkward. You have to take an elevator to the main floor, transfer, then either take the stairs/escalator or another elevator to reach it. Very annoying if you have any suitcases or are carrying anything heavy.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At the center of Montreal's vibrant cultural and commercial district sits the city's grandest and most gracious hotel - Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. Located above the train station (Via Rail & AMTRAK) and connected to the extensive underground city of thousands of boutiques, restaurants and cafes, and within walking distance of sports and cultural attractions, this Montreal hotel reflects the city’s distinct elegance and charm. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal
- Fairmont Hotel Montreal
- Fairmont Montreal
- Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
- Montreal Fairmont